Australian first - CQUniversity to launch First Nations RHD Academy

Published:01 October 2020

CQUniversity has launched a First Nations Research Higher Degree (RHD) Academy

CQUniversity will today launch a First Nations Research Higher Degree (RHD) Academy – the first Australian university to do so.

The Academy responds to research indicating that First Nations people are under-represented in postgraduate research training programs in Australian universities.

CQUniversity Deputy Vice-President of Indigenous Engagement, Professor Adrian Miller said it was a great privilege to open a research Academy that will provide greater opportunity for Indigenous Australians.

“The enrolment rates of Indigenous RHD candidates in this country are well under the population parity rate; in fact, Indigenous RHD student enrolments would need to almost triple to achieve population parity,” Professor Miller explained.

“The CQUniversity First Nations RHD Academy aims to address that parity while being the first Australian university to do so.”

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Nick Klomp said he was proud to endorse the Academy.

“At CQUniversity we are committed to inclusion, engagement and reconciliation, all of which are significant drivers for providing educational opportunities and connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Professor Klomp said.

“This Academy will assist CQU in increasing Indigenous participation in research and, more importantly, assist candidates in achieving strong levels of cultural, pastoral and academic support that is critical for the success of Indigenous research candidates.”

CQUniversity currently has ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander RHD students, representing just two per cent of the University’s total RHD candidates.

School of Graduate Research Dean, Professor Susan Kinnear, said the establishment of a First Nations RHD Academy was an ideal solution to increase RHD enrolments and completions.

“The First Nations RHD Academy will provide a supportive and culturally-safe learning environment, for Indigenous research candidates to thrive and complete their research qualifications – no matter where they are based in Australia,” Professor Kinnear said.

“The Academy will focus on capacity-building through attracting more Indigenous students to participate in research degrees, for which Indigenous peoples are underrepresented, as well as upskilling our research community to be aware of the importance and sensitivities of undertaking meaningful and respectful research with Indigenous students and their communities.

“There will be a strong focus on engaging with Indigenous-identified academic staff from within CQUniversity and elsewhere as supervisors, including an Elders program that will be established.”

The First Nations RHD Academy will be overseen by Academic Lead and Mentor, Professor Jenni Judd.